The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)

PG | 110 mins | Drama | 30 July 1975

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HISTORY

       A 25 Oct 1972 Var news brief announced that producer Martin Baum was trying to sign Peter O’Toole to appear in The Wilby Conspiracy.
       Actress Persis Khambatta was crowned Miss India in 1965. She starred in various movies in India before moving to London, England, to become a model. The Wilby Conspiracy was her first non-Indian film according to her 20 Aug 1998 obituary in The Independent.
       A 22 Apr 1974 Newsweek reported that Rukirabasaija Patrick David Matthew Koboyo Olimi III, deposed King of Toro, a small kingdom in western Uganda, served as Sidney Poitier’s stand-in on the film. Olimi’s reign lasted from 1965 to 1967, when all monarchies in Uganda were abolished. In 1993, the monarchies were reestablished and Olimi’s son, Rukidi IV, reclaimed the crown.
       A 1 Apr 1974 DV news item reported that The Wilby Conspiracy marked the theatrical film debut of Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s first Prime Minister and former Vice-President.
       As reported in the 11 Sep 1973 DV, principal photography was scheduled to begin in Kenya on 15 Feb 1974. Shooting was completed mid-May 1974 at the Pinewood Studios in London, England as reported in a 27 May 1974 Box news item.

      The following written statement appears in end credits: “Made by Optimus Productions Ltd. On location in Kenya and at Pinewood Studios, London ... More Less

       A 25 Oct 1972 Var news brief announced that producer Martin Baum was trying to sign Peter O’Toole to appear in The Wilby Conspiracy.
       Actress Persis Khambatta was crowned Miss India in 1965. She starred in various movies in India before moving to London, England, to become a model. The Wilby Conspiracy was her first non-Indian film according to her 20 Aug 1998 obituary in The Independent.
       A 22 Apr 1974 Newsweek reported that Rukirabasaija Patrick David Matthew Koboyo Olimi III, deposed King of Toro, a small kingdom in western Uganda, served as Sidney Poitier’s stand-in on the film. Olimi’s reign lasted from 1965 to 1967, when all monarchies in Uganda were abolished. In 1993, the monarchies were reestablished and Olimi’s son, Rukidi IV, reclaimed the crown.
       A 1 Apr 1974 DV news item reported that The Wilby Conspiracy marked the theatrical film debut of Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s first Prime Minister and former Vice-President.
       As reported in the 11 Sep 1973 DV, principal photography was scheduled to begin in Kenya on 15 Feb 1974. Shooting was completed mid-May 1974 at the Pinewood Studios in London, England as reported in a 27 May 1974 Box news item.

      The following written statement appears in end credits: “Made by Optimus Productions Ltd. On location in Kenya and at Pinewood Studios, London England."
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 May 1974.
---
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1973.
---
Daily Variety
1 Apr 1974.
---
Daily Variety
4 Dec 1974.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1975
p. 3, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1974
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1974
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1975
p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jul 1975.
---
New York Times
4 Sep 1975
p. 31.
Newsweek
22 Apr 1974.
---
The Independent
20 Aug 1998.
---
Variety
25 Oct 1972.
---
Variety
25 Jun 1975
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Action seqs
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Cam op, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Sitar and surbahar played by
African mus consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Process photog
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Continuity
Casting
Asst to prod
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Wilby Conspiracy by Peter Driscoll (Philadelphia, 1972).
SONGS
"Geliefde Man," singer Jean Hart, music by Stanley Myers, lyric by Jeremy Taylor.
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 July 1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 30 July 1975
New York opening: 3 September 1975
Production Date:
15 February--mid May 1974 in Kenya and London, England
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corporation
Copyright Date:
6 January 1975
Copyright Number:
LP44891
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed with Panavision equipment
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23926
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After successfully defending Shack Twala, an innocent black man who has served ten years in a South African prison, barister Rina Van Niekirk invites Shack and Jim Keogh, a British mining engineer, to her office to celebrate. En route, they are pulled over by two policemen who demand Shack’s identification papers. Although Rina explains Shack has just been released from prison and his new travel pass has not yet been issued, Shack is beaten and handcuffed. When Rina attempts to intervene, one of the constables punches her in the stomach. Jim and Shack leap to her defense and beat the policemen unconscious. As they drive away, Rina says Jim and Shack must flee the country as Jim could be sentenced to prison for five years for aiding and abetting a black man and Shack would “commit suicide” while under police supervision. Jim orders Shack out of the car, and Rina points out that if Shack is caught he will be tortured until he incriminates Jim. Shack insists he knows someone in Johannesburg who can help, but it is a nine hundred mile trip from Capetown. Rina gives Jim the keys to her soon to be ex-husband Blane Van Niekirk’s Johannesburg apartment and tells him to hole up there. Meanwhile, an infuriated police district commissioner demands to know why Major Horn of the Security Bureau has ordered the police to allow the fugitives to escape Capetown. When Horn states that it is a matter of national security, the Commissioner accuses Horn of using national security as an excuse for the excesses of apartheid. Horn reminds him that it was ... +


After successfully defending Shack Twala, an innocent black man who has served ten years in a South African prison, barister Rina Van Niekirk invites Shack and Jim Keogh, a British mining engineer, to her office to celebrate. En route, they are pulled over by two policemen who demand Shack’s identification papers. Although Rina explains Shack has just been released from prison and his new travel pass has not yet been issued, Shack is beaten and handcuffed. When Rina attempts to intervene, one of the constables punches her in the stomach. Jim and Shack leap to her defense and beat the policemen unconscious. As they drive away, Rina says Jim and Shack must flee the country as Jim could be sentenced to prison for five years for aiding and abetting a black man and Shack would “commit suicide” while under police supervision. Jim orders Shack out of the car, and Rina points out that if Shack is caught he will be tortured until he incriminates Jim. Shack insists he knows someone in Johannesburg who can help, but it is a nine hundred mile trip from Capetown. Rina gives Jim the keys to her soon to be ex-husband Blane Van Niekirk’s Johannesburg apartment and tells him to hole up there. Meanwhile, an infuriated police district commissioner demands to know why Major Horn of the Security Bureau has ordered the police to allow the fugitives to escape Capetown. When Horn states that it is a matter of national security, the Commissioner accuses Horn of using national security as an excuse for the excesses of apartheid. Horn reminds him that it was the whites who Christianized and built South Africa and three million whites are surrounded by eighteen million blacks who want to drive them into the sea. That night, Shack asks Jim to pull over so he can urinate. When Jim tells him to hold it, Shack explains that since police attached his testicles to a car battery, he has no bladder control. Later, they break into a mining shack to remove Shack's handcuffs. The owner appears and, after hearing their story, uses his tools and picks the locks. Meanwhile, Rina is detained trying to fly out of the country. Horn and Van Heerden, his assistant, accuse her of smuggling papers that will incriminate South African authorities. Dissatisfied with her responses, Horn orders Rina to undergo a cavity search. The next day, Jim’s radiator overheats and when he pulls over to let it cool off, Shack admits to being the vice-chairman of the “Black Congress,” a radical group dedicated to ending apartheid. Before Jim can react, two policemen arrive and offer assistance. As one of the officers pours water into the radiator, he warns Jim that blacks are too stupid to properly operate an automobile, and he should do all the driving. The police then radio Jim’s license plate number to headquarters and leave. That night, when Jim and Shack stop for food and gas, Horn walks over to them and asks for a match. Pretending to drop his cigarettes, Horn attaches a tracking device to Jim’s car, and walks away. The next morning, Jim falls asleep behind the wheel and turns over the car. As they turn the car upright, the trunk pops open, revealing the dead body of the mine owner, and Shack explains the police are toying with them. When they arrive in Johannesburg, Shack directs Jim to the offices of Dr. Anil Mukerjee, an Indian dentist. Although Shack tells Jim to wait outside, Jim sneaks into a back door and hears the dentist and Shack discussing a shipment of diamonds that Shack was smuggling for the Black Congress ten years ago. Mukerjee explains that after Shack’s arrest, he could not contact the Black Congress’s chairman, Wilby, so he tossed the diamonds down a sinkhole to hide them from the police. Unaware that Jim overheard his conversation about the diamonds, Shack tells him they have to wait a few days before they can cross the border to Botswana. Jim drives to Blane Van Niekirk’s apartment to find Rina waiting. Meanwhile, Mukerjee looks out his window and spots Horn approaching. He runs into the office of Dr. Persis Ray, his beautiful, young, Indian partner, and tells her about Shack. Persis berates Mukerjee for his anti-government activities, but finds Shack and the two hide in a secret room where they make love, while Horn interrogates Mukerjee. Later, Jim and Rina are taking a bubble bath when Horn and Van Heerden surprise them. After beating Jim, Horn offers to let them leave the country with Shack if they retrieve the stolen diamonds. Horn and Van Heerden depart, passing Shack, who watches them from a telephone booth. Later as Rina, Jim, Shack and the two dentists eat dinner, Shack accuses Jim of making a deal with Horn. Jim accuses Shack of planning to abandon him once he has the diamonds. Rina insists they must stick together if they are to survive. Since Shack will not leave without the diamonds, Jim agrees to use his mining skills to retrieve them. When Rina asks Mukerjee how they can get out of the country, he gives her information she can use to blackmail her husband into flying them across the border. Rina then meets with Blane Van Niekirk, who is indifferent to her threats of blackmail, but agrees to help her in exchange for sex. That night, Jim builds a tripod over the sinkhole, runs a rope through the pulley and attaches the other end to a school bus. When Mukerjee drives the bus forward, Jim is lowered into the sinkhole. Once the diamonds are found, Mukerjee puts the bus in reverse, but Persis climbs in and shoots Mukerjee dead. She backs up the bus until Jim dangles ten feet above the hole, then demands he toss her the diamonds or she will shoot him. Shack attacks and lifts her into the air. The gun discharges and Shack recoils in pain, dropping Persis into the hole. The two men drive the bus to meet Rina, then transfer to a jeep and head into the country. The next morning, they are spotted by the border police and try to hide behind a bush. When the police drive over to investigate they find Rina wearing only her bra and panties with no sign of Jim or Shack. When Rina drives off, the police give chase until they pull up on either side of the jeep to box her in. Jim and Shack jump from under a blanket and hit the drivers with clubs, causing them to crash. As they race to the airfield, they hit a rock and break their axle. Shack runs ahead to make sure Blane does not leave without them and finds him ready to ambush them with a hunting rifle. Shack jumps Blane and the two struggle until Jim arrives, picks up the rifle and orders Blane into the cockpit. As they fly into Botswana, two South African fighter jets appear and order them to turn around, but Blane loses them by flying between two cliffs. Landing at an old airfield, they are met by Wilby and a huge crowd. A truck pulls up and South African soldiers leap out, spraying the area with machine guns. Horn and Van Heerden arrive by helicopter and as they arrest Wilby, Horn announces that since they kept their word, Rina Jim and Shack are free to go. Shack offers to exchange the diamonds for Wilby, but Van Heerden explains the diamonds are fake. When the South Africans get into the helicopter, Shack runs forward, pulls Van Heerdeen out and shoots him with his own gun, then grabs the runners to prevent the helicopter from lifting off. The crowd attacks with picks and spears, killing the soldiers. Horn threatens to shoot Wilby, but Jim steps forward and explains that if he does, the blacks will rise up and kill every white man in Africa. Laughing, Horn hands Jim his revolver, promising he will be back to kill every man, woman and child. Jim shoots him between the eyes, then tells Rina he may need a good lawyer. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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